Social Stratification

Posted: February 19, 2011 in class, education, institution, race, socialization, society, sociology

In the next section of our course, we will consider social stratification in the United States, utilizing the example of class, race and the educational system. Continue to think about the ideas in Chapter 8: Structural Sources of Social Change as we look at the ways in which people are divided into different groups and ranked hierarchically (economic, social, etc.).

We will be watching two documentaries that examine the educational system from a class stratification perspectives during week 6 (Feb 17-22).

In Nursery University, parents struggle to get their toddlers into high end nursery schools in Manhattan.

In Waiting for Superman , the crisis in the U.S. public education situation is put into perspective and examined. Students’ achievements are dropping to the lowest levels in history, making them unable to compete in a global economy, where the U.S. ranks near last when compared against other industrialized nations.

For Tuesday March 1st, we will read chapter 9: Social Stratification (223-242) and discuss class and race issues in relation to the two documentaries.The authors define social stratification as “the pattern of structured inequities” (223). The chapter examines how our society divides people along lines of class, race/ethnicity, gender and other variations and then rewards these groups differently. The chapter provides an overview of different sociological theories that explain stratification: order theory (deficiency theories) and conflict theory (structural theories).

For your blog posting, use the example of one or both of the documentaries to examine the issues explore in this chapter. Highlight one of these theories (order or conflict) and discuss the perspective this theory would have on the stratification of the educational system, using the example of one or two of the documentaries.

Further Reading:
On Science Exams, New York’s Students Fall Short
Role for Teachers Is Seen in Solving Schools’ Crises
Leader of Teachers’ Union Urges Dismissal Overhaul
All Providence, R.I. Teachers to get Termination Letters
Teacher Layoff Plans in Los Angeles Pose Broad Implications
I Don’t Want to be a Teacher Any More
American Anthropological Association’s Statement on “Race”

Latinos and the Educational Pipeline

  1. Brennan Johnson says:

    The textbook defines Social Stratification as “the pattern of structured inequities (223).” I believe that this is crucial to the understanding of human groups and this definately affects the way in which structured groups behave in society. The book also discusses the three major heirarchies; class, race, and gender. Recently in class we had watched two documentaries that fall under the categories of social differentiation, social stratification, order theory, and lastly conflict theory. I personally am going to focus on the documentary entitled “Waiting for “Superman.”

    In the “Waiting for “Superman” documentary, this focuses a lot on the struggles of relatively poor minorty members in society do not have the means to get a proper education. When watching this movie it had a lot to do with minorities attending horrible public schools that is basically forced upon them because society makes it so that they are not able to climb the social latter or what not. It was extremely sad to watch this documentary right after we had watched the “Nursery University” movie because these children appear to be trapped. This movie shoes that there is definately something wrong with the educational system.

    In Ch 9 of the book, under the Conflict Theory, Karl Marx stated “So powerful is this socialization process that even oppressed peoples tend to accept their low status as natural (231).” This quote proves that those who are being oppressed ACCEPT the fact that they are oppressed and chose not to do anything about it. Therefore they are keeping themselves stuck, no society, that’s my opinion. In “Waiting for “Superman” I felt that almost all of the families in which the movie followed accepted the fact that the way they lived will always be the same, there will never be any change in what they experience. The parents of these children accepted the fact that they just went by the norms and tried not to change things, but now they want their children to get an amazing education. These children have no role models to look up to because there parents made the choice to not finish school, and to get involved with the wrong people.

    I believe that this movie showed an amazing example of both the order and conflict theories. This movie had a lot to do with blaming the individual and blaming society. You can blame the individual in this documentary because most of the childrens parents or grandparents did not set the correct example for their children, therefore this attitude affects the way in which children view their lives and tend to follow in the footsteps of their corrupt parents. However the way that this movie depicted the educational system is definately an eye opener because it shows the ways in which the educational union and environments in which the schools are located, affect the education in which these children in poverty are recieving. An example of society affecting the negative education that these children are experiencing is the 10 year rule which became normal for public school teachers. This is completely unacceptable because if there is a horrible teacher who decides not to teach, he/she will still maintain their job, there is no getting rid of them, and this is scary. You would think that the union would help neighborhoods in which education is poor. But again, Social Darwinism still exists and it truly is a dog eat dog world. Everyone is really on their own.

    Throughout almost all of the chapters in which we had discussed I am having to continuously ask myself the question “Blame the individual? or Blame society?” It is really hard to do because both are equally to blame. I felt that a lot of this chapter and the previous chapters have been extremely biased in trying to blame society for the malfunctions that occur within society, however if all the blame is put on society it takes all the pressure off of the individuals and that is almost worse. Individual mistakes have a lot to do with the way things are. If you want something then you have to have that drive to get that. In “Waiting for “Superman”, the little spanish girl who lived in a very poor part of Los Angeles had the drive to become a doctor when her parents did not. Even though she is a woman of color, by having that drive she will get far. However the environment and education in which she is surrounded by will make it extremely difficult for her to get out. It really is the parents role to make sure that their children expect the best for themselves and go after what they want. A lot of the documentary showed the failing schools that these children are experiencing. I felt that all the blame was on the union and not on the individual. It really should have portrayed a more evenly distribution of the two.

    The movie showed areas in which education is bad and one of the areas was Harlem, NY. My mother grew up here and I know what it is like because she always described her educational experiences growing up as a kid. The schools in which she attended in elementary schools were extremely weak and did not have good teachers at all. This is where blaming society comes in. However, my mother was extremely poor and made sure that she would get out of the mess that she was in so she decided to work extremely hard and make sure that she went to a highschool in Brooklyn and then eventually went off to attend an IVY League school, Brown University. This is why I find it to be extremely hard to sympathize with the victim because I have a great mother who went through just as much if not more than the people in these documentaries, and made an amazing life and successful career out of it. Lots of the parents in this movie claimed that they were “cheated as a child” however, did they decide to do anything about it? Absolutely not. I will always believe that there needs to be drive in all people to go after what they want, to not accept failure, once you accept failure than you are failure.

    There is no doubt about it that educational systems are horrible, but there are ways to get out of it. People just really need to strive for what they want. Blaming the individual and Blaming the society are both apparent in “Waiting for “Superman” as well as any other hardships that members of society experience. I believe in both the order and conflict theory, but I tend to lean towards the order theory. I personally believe that there needs to be order in a society and that in order to make it to the top, then you have to work for it, people cannot just expect for things to be served to them on a silver platter.

    A movie that I thought would be a perfect example of Social Stratification in the educational system, and has a lot to do with the “Waiting for “Superman” documentary is the film Freedom Writers. These students at first have the motive and beliefs that school is not important, and instead decide to involve themselves with disruptive behavior, however, one person who was a teacher played by Hilary Swank came in and changed the way they thought of themselves. She can be considered to be the “Superman” figure, because she helped these teenagers believe in themselves when they went through extremely tough times. Everyone needs a superman figure in their life, whether it is a family member, a friend, or a principle, whatever it is as long as you have that drive, nothing can stop you.

  2. Peter Wu says:

    The Chapter 9 of “In Conflict and Order” uses the caste system of India heavily to describe the phenomenal role of well… roles. In India you are automatically born into a certain role in society. There are incentives and disincentives to keep you playing the roles you are given in India. For example if you play your role as an untouchable, for example keeping your head down when higher castes are around, you move up the caste system. This reminded me of the Stanford prison experiment that showed how powerful roles control your personality and who you are.
    Fortunately living in the United States, we do not have caste systems or other types of suppressing social classes. But despite that, our country still has unfair practices and roles that people unfortunately play into. For example in the movie “Nursery University” the white upper class parents play their role of being white upper class parents by excessively paying $20,000 a semester for a 3 year old. They play into that role because they look around them and see other people like them sending 3 year olds to expensive nurseries. There was one parent who just saw his wife give birth that got questioned what nursery his child is going to several times when filling the paperwork for his baby. That probably encouraged him to send his child to an expensive nursery. On the other hand in “Waiting for Superman” it is easy to see the social stratification and social class differences. While the 3 year old babies were privileged, the African American urban families were competing to get into the very few good schools that existed. This definitely shows how race and ethnicity play a role into our countries education system. Even though there is no more segregation, the fact that African Americans live in more poorer areas translates to an education of lower quality that white suburban schools. It’s unfortunate because urban schools usually have worse off teachers, worse equipment, less space to teach, and are generally less privileged. I disagree with the “culture of poverty” hypothesis (236) because there were poor African American families in “Waiting for Superman” that seemed to really push their child to succeed in school and in life. I think that a simple solution to social stratification would be more communication and understanding between social classes.

    Analyzing the “Order Theory” by Davis and Morre(230) on the social stratification reminds me of basic economics. Economics is about what society produces, and who gets what. I agree with the Order theory in that rewards should be unevenly distributed. For example I think that restaurant dishwashers are important, I don’t want to imagine dishes piling up. Even thought they are important for society, they are paid little for one basic reason. They are paid little there are many people out there that are able to wash dishes, but there aren’t many dishwasher positions out there. That allows restaurants to lower wages for dishwashers, since there is a huge supply and low demand for dishwashers. On the other hand there is a need for doctors, but there aren’t much doctors so they should be paid more accordingly.
    We can see how the law of supply and demand effects the stratification of the educational system. Since there is such a high demand for nursuries by Manhatten upper class families in “Nursery University”, they can justify charging $20,000 a semester for a toddler. Since those upper class families probably contribute the most to society in terms of unique skills, they should get the most rewards as stated in the “Order Theory” by Davis and Moore. In “Waiting for Superman” there were “dropout factories” that no parent wanted to send their children to, so therefore the parents rather send them to the better schools. Matter of fact there so many applicants to these better schools that they were forced to use a lottery system. According to “Order Theory” by Davis and Moore these lower class communities do not contribute much to society than compared to suburban communities, so therefore they do not get the highest quality education. I do not agree with that, I think that everybody deserves a high quality education regardless of income, race, or ethnicity. It is an unfortunate fact that since suburban communities pay more in taxes, they get higher quality teachers and equipment for their schools. This is how the “Order Theory” effects the stratification of the educational system.
    The video attached is an advertisement for one of the most expensive boarding schools available, an elite school nested in the Swiss Alps. It easily shows the educational quality differences between social classes.

  3. Gary Gustin says:

    After watching the two in-class documentaries about education, we can examine the stratification of the American educational system by using either the conflict theory or the order theory. The conflict theory sees stratification as the result of the distribution of power within a society. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and the strong fight to take resources from the weak. The order theory says that social inequality, which includes education, is an inevitable consequence of an ordered society that requires a division of labor (230). Historians in particular note that ancient societies developed a defined system of labor and incentives or disincentives for each occupation. Does our education system reflect the conflict or the order theory? Although I think the ultimate answer is that the inequalities in our education system result from a combination of both theories, I would place greater emphasis on the conflict theory. If we recall the first movie, Nursery University, we can see the conflict theory played out quite openly. Note how competitive the parents were when it came to getting their child into the best nursery school possible in New York. Parents lied in or “embellished” letters to the schools, repeatedly asked for admission for their child despite being rejected and used their social connections to try to secure a position for their child in a good nursery school over another child. One politician apparently went so far as to use his financial influence to get his child admitted to a prestigious nursery school. I see the conflict theory as not only being a reflection of human nature, namely the desire of a parent to see their offspring survive and prosper, but also a reflection of the increasingly unequal society that we live in. As the gap between the rich and the poor widens, these conflicts can only be expected to increase exponentially.

    To get an idea of what the federal government is likely to do in the immediate future about education, please watch this youtube video. It’s long but it’s very detailed about the president’s ideas to reform education.

  4. Taylor Takats says:

    In the textbook In Conflict and Order the concept of social stratification is described as “when people are ranked in a vertical arrangement (hierarchy) that differentiates them as superior or inferior” (226). Unfortunately, this arrangement exists throughout a wide range of cultures. From the caste system in India to the lingering system that is similar to slavery in Brazil to the hierarchy that exists in the United States between the rich and the poor, social stratification cannot be avoided. This system can be attributed to the prevailing idea of social differentiation of “categorizing people by height, occupation, or some other personal attribute” (225). This idea can be clearly seen in the race for the Manhattan elitists to get their child into a private nursery school, as seen in the documentary “Nursery University.” One of the top nursery schools named in the film, Mandell, costs about $20,000 for a full-day student. This price is absolutely ludicrous and makes it so that even the idea of sending your child to a private nursery school is unattainable if you don’t belong to the wealthiest in all of Manhattan. The only people that are able to apply and cross their fingers for their child’s admittance are those who have the extra cash and time to spend nearly an entire work day calling the schools up to get an application then pay the hefty college-like application fee. Even then, these parents aren’t guaranteed a good chance for their child for as stated at Mandell they only had 28 open spots (since 32 will be filled with siblings). Whereas on the other end of the spectrum their are families who work long hours all day for little pay who lack the time and the money to spend on the whole exhausting process. This blockade prevents the lower working class to never get the opportunity to send their child to any nursery school that is not debilitated or even at all. As argued by the conflict theory described in the textbook In Conflict and Order, social stratification is “unjust, unnecessary, and the source of many societal problems” (230). The conflict theory would further argue that this process of making the best nursery schools in Manhattan only accessible to the elitists that it will continue to keep the poor and their children poor. By keeping the best educations the most expensive and unattainable to the lower class, it enables the lower class to believe that “they lack the skills and brains to do the better-rewarded tasks in society” since they can never even get a feel for what something better than the only educational systems accessible to them (231). They are never given the choice to decide what their child should do as far as schooling so they settle for what they can get, even if it means that their child will never see a future in education beyond high school, if they do graduate, do to the rising costs of college. By keeping education expensive, it will only allow the gap between the poor and the wealthy to grow, especially in the United States where it is very difficult to attain an adequate, reputable job without first achieving a college degree of some kind. Below is a link that lists the prices of some colleges to illustrate the impossibility of gaining admittance and they being able to afford it for the lower working class.
    This link also details the most expensive prep schools, preschools and other educational institutions.

  5. Kristen Nersesian says:

    In the textbook, it is explained that the hierarchies of social stratification are class, race, and gender. Social class “implies having or not having individual rights, privileges, power, wealth, status, etc.” (227). Race is socially defined on the basis of a presumed common genetic heritage resulting in distinguishing physical characteristics. Ethnicity refers to the condition of being culturally rather than physically distinctive. People of color or racial ethnics have less power, wealth, and social status than other people do living in the United States (228). According to the gender part of social stratification, women are usually lower in status than men.
    Deficiency theories or order theories, in the textbook, are closely related to the documentary we watched in class, Nursery University. Social Darwinism argues that the poor are poor because they were unfit. Other psychologists argue that intelligence in inherited. A study was done on infants and their development of three years. The research found that infants who had stimulating daycare environments had on average a thirteen point higher IQ score than the babies who did not have that experience. This is closely related to the documentary Nursery University because in this documentary, parents are fighting to get their kids into the best preschool so they can have a higher education in the future.

  6. Chris Rockensies says:

    Society has been filled with inequality since the beginning of time. In Chapter 9 of the textbook we learn about the main forms of social stratification and the effects on people’s lives. The book defines social stratification as “the pattern of structured inequalities.”(223) This is saying that in every society there are certain groups in which people are treated and earn more rewards then other groups. The people who tend to be in the lower of the social groups miss out on “life chances” which are defined as “the chances throughout one’s life cycle to live and to experience the good things in life.”(226) In our current society, this life chances could be considered a good education. Many middle and upper class white people have a much better chance of earning a higher education than those of a race or ethnicity considered a minority. In class we watched a film called “Waiting for Superman,” we saw the differences in schools better between upper/middle class kids, mostly white, and lower class students, mostly black or Latino. The public schools in poverty stricken neighbors are nowhere near the educational level they should be. Students are not learning the material due to bad teachers and lack of funds, so many of the students therefore drop out of school and turn to a life of crime. While schools in the suburbs are receiving much better funding and better teachers, allowing many more students to graduate and move on to college. Schools that have a dropout rate of 40% or more are classified as “drop out factories,” we see the majority of these in poor neighborhoods. This is not a problem that is going to be fixed over night; many presidents have tried to fix the educational problem. One major problem of the education system is the funding that many schools comes from all of the place causing many different people to run the schools and cause much confusion when trying to manage the schools.

    There have been several different theories that have tried to answer the problem of social stratification. The two main theories are the order and conflict theories. They are two dramatically different theories. I tend to agree with the “conflict theory.” This basically says that “stratification reflects the distribution of power in society and is therefore a major source of discord and coercion.”(230) We can see this in both of the films that we watched. The people who were white and wealthy had a much better and easier chance getting into the school of their choice because they had the resources needed to give them the best opportunities, this could include luxuries such as owning their own car to get to school. They can also donate to the schools to help further their child’s chances. Living in nicer neighborhoods allows the children attend better public schools and therefore advance in society. The wealthy are disallowing the weaker people in society to come and get the better jobs or education because they are using their privileges to keep it that way, but educating their kids as best as possible.

  7. David Strong says:

    In the chapter, we learned about Order Theory which states that the social inequality is “a ubiquitous and apparently unavoidable phenomenon” (230). This idea can explain, though not fully, the prevalent issue in “Nursery University”. The main idea was that those families felt that, as upper class citizens living in NYC, it was just an unavoidable fact that they would have to search through many different expensive pre-schools for their children. These parents probably would have agreed with the Order Theory that it was unavoidable that some children would be raised to go to these pre-schools while other children, such as the ones in “Waiting for Superman” would not be raised to that level. The children going to the expensive schools, according to the theory, must do so because they must be trained to be the managers of the lower-class citizens. They must be the doctors, lawyers, and accountants who stay socially above the children from lower classes. The idea of Social Darwinism, which was discussed in this chapter, states that this must be the case because the lower-class children come from an inferior biological gene pool and that the children going to the expensive schools are obligated to, and will inevitably, be more successful. In terms of the effect this has on the school system, it is a perpetuating cycle. The students at the expensive schools will be taught that that is where they belong and the students at the lower class schools will be taught that there best chance of success lies in lower-class jobs. Thus, the cycle repeats. This link provide interesting information about the students who attend private schools in the US versus those who attend public schools:

  8. Katie Cimmino says:

    In Chapter 9 of our textbook we learn about the main forms of social stratification and the effects that it has on people’s lives. The book defines social stratification as “the pattern of structured inequalities” (223). Social stratification cannot be avoided. It is present in the caste system in India to the system that is similar to slavery in Brazil to the hierarchy that exists in the United States between the rich and the poor. This idea can be clearly seen in the film Nursery University. The race for the Manhattan elitists to get their child into a private nursery school just seems outrageous. One of the top nursery schools named in the film, Mandell, costs about $20,000 for a full-day student. The only people that are able to apply for their child’s admittance to these types of schools are those who have the extra cash and time to spend. These parents and children aren’t even guaranteed a good chance for their child to get into these schools. For example, Mandell Nursery School only had 28 open spots with over 100 applicants each year. There is a huge gap between these families who seem to have it all and those who put in countless hours for little pay that have little to no chance of getting their child or children into nursery school. The conflict theory described in the textbook say that social stratification is “unjust, unnecessary, and the source of many societal problems” (230). The conflict theory further argues that by making the best nursery schools in Manhattan only accessible to the elitists that it will continue to keep the poor and their children poor. By keeping the best educations the most expensive and beyond the reach of the lower class, it enables the lower class to believe that “they lack the skills and brains to do the better-rewarded tasks in society” since they can never even get a feel for what something better than the only educational systems accessible to them (231). This system does not allow them to have a choice of what their child should do as far as schooling so they settle for what they can get. This could mean that their child will never see a future in education beyond high school, and if they do graduate, their chance for going to college is slim to none because of the high costs. By keeping education expensive, it will only allow the gap between the poor and the wealthy to grow. In the United States it is getting more and more difficult to attain an adequate job without getting a college education. If we keep treating our education system the way we are, there will never be a chance for the less fortunate.

  9. Andra Tomassi says:

    The order theory states that inequality is an “ubiquitous and apparently unavoidable phenomenon”(230). It is avoidable due to the division of labor. It goes on to state that in order to get the tasked needed for survival accomplished, society must makes these tasks worth doing. This happened through rewards(230). A person, who is doing a needed job such as a doctor, goes through years of school and training which in the end results in higher rewards because of the time put into the labor. In the order theory, the rewards for these jobs are a must. The reward system is differential because it guarantees that the harder jobs will be done. For this order theory to be successful, people must accept their position in the system whether good or bad. This brings the questions about the poor. Who is to blame for the poor, is it the system or the individual. The documents examine the school system from both spectrums. In Nursery University, parents are trying to give their children the best education possible using money and In Waiting for Superman, parents have to send their children to public school because of their financial situation. The movie Nursery University disagrees with the order theory because it is staying that powerful are more privileged than the poor. It states in the system of stratification, “the powerful prey on the weak” (230). In society today, the powerful ones are the people who have had doors opened to them because of their educational background. In education is a tool that can be used to ones benefit. The parents of the children in Nursery University would agree that with conflict theory that one deserves their fate and social stratification Is a necessary part of society. However, Waiting for Superman states the quite opposite. Why should one expect their fate based on the education system? The system should be equal and not be as dysfunctional(230).
    I believe when it comes to education, everyone should have the same opportunities. It is not fair that a family with money can better their child’s chance of a better just because of money. If we continue to allow, children who do not have the means to be their education, solely on the fact the area they live in does not foster a better education system, we will be hurting society in the long run. The children who have no choice but to attend a failing school lose their potential for greatest because of system that is failing them. I believe that the education system needs to be revamped in order to protect the minds of the children who have been lost by the system.

  10. melanie lynott says:

    Social Stratification has played a significant role in society for many decades and it still has a major influence over cultures today. Chapter nine states that sociologists use order or conflict theories to explain why societies have forms of social class systems (230). Order theorists believe that social class systems are practical for society. Theorists believe that without unequal rewards people would not be as motivated to attend school or perform long hours of training to accomplish the desired task. This relates to the educational system because people who go to a prestige college and spend many years studying their area of desired work tend to make more money and be of a higher class than someone who did not attend college. Theorists believe that all positions of labor need to be filled and motivation based unequal rewards allow this to happen. In the documentary, “Nursery University”, parents attempt to get their children into high status nursery schools because they believe it will open doors for their kids and allow them to have jobs later in life that offer money and power. As shown in the documentary, a family from Harlem who were of lower class, tries to get their son into an impressive nursery school so that he will live in a higher class system than his parents. Many parents in the film said how they wanted their children to get into a high ranked nursery school because they thought it had an influence on what college they would go to. The desire of wealth and power have an effect on education because people feel it is important to be wealthy and of a decent social class. They feel the way to achieve that goal is by attending a good school to get a good job.

  11. Emily Chow says:

    In the text, the conflict theory views stratification as a reflection of the distribution of power in society and therefore, a major source of discord and coercion (230). Discord results from groups competing for limited resources, causing people who lack the power to resent their lowly position and lack of resources. Coercion is an outcome of the powerful, typically rich, white males, to use the weak to their advantage. The documentary, “Nursery University,” depicts the conflict theory in action with its footage on competition between families to get their children into high-demand nurseries. The film shows that there is a distribution in power on the basis of being able to afford tuition for nursery school. One particular family in the film explained that they were fighting to make ends meet, so paying for their son to go to a prestigious nursery school would be difficult. This lack of resources creates discord for this family in order to be on the same level as other families applying for preschool.

    “Waiting for Superman” is a documentary that examines the successes or failures of the U.S. education systems and how our children are failing to make scores compare to those of other developed countries. The families of children in this film illustrate the conflict theory because they are also competing for admission into the better schools that produce better results in learning. When parents try to enter their children into the lottery, many areas of discord result because these parents are not able to send their kids to good public schools. Their low class status impacts these families directly because they cannot afford to send their children into private schools. Coercion exists in the school systems because these families have no other choice but to enroll their children to “failure factories.”

    This New York Times article, entitled “Colleges Are Failing in Graduation Rates,” gives a follow-up view of what the future for the children of these two documentaries have to look forward to. It examines the factors that account for low graduation rates such as the failure of high schools, and the exceedingly detrimental impact of students’ social class. They explain that children are choosing colleges based on the tuition they can afford, rather than choosing the best schools they are most qualified for. The effects of socioeconomic status result in these increasing dropout rates. This article gives out a very disheartening outlook for the future of the students going into college, especially those who are motivated to graduate but lack the financial stability to do so. (

  12. Raenee Ritter says:

    In Nursery University the most apparent form of social stratification is class or social status. The one thing that all of the families interviewed in the documentary had in common was money. They were applying to these schools not only because they wanted the best for their kids but because they could afford it. There was only one family if i can remember right that had a question of whether or not they could afford the education. While the film represented a struggle, it was a struggle among the upper class. Chapter 9 talked about class hierarchies and how they are structured. There is the apparent divisions of classes – upper, middle, lower yet there are even sub divisions within those divisions that represent the highest and lowest of the classes. The book goes on to talk about whether or not poverty is necessary to the structure of society, its disadvantages and advantages and etc. There are two theories of stratification discussed in the chapter starting on page 230, the conflict theory and the order theory. The order theory states that “social inequality is a ubiquitous and apparently unavoidable phenomenon” (230). I agree with this theory to an extent because i do feel that inequality is unavoidable but i don’t feel that poverty is necessary. And as the theory describes it is one thing to have inequality among jobs but another thing to have inequality among salaries based on the jobs. An unpleasant job must be done but that does not mean that because it is unpleasant it has to pay little. The paragraph discusses a system of rewards that are necessary to induce individuals to fill these jobs. The reward system is in place to ensure that there is an even distribution. In reference to the documentary, the reward o

  13. Raenee Ritter says:

    Oops. Accidentally hit post—
    In reference to the documentary, the reward of the parents with high paying jobs is a good enough salary to not only afford to live in NYC but to be able to send their children to Nursery Schools at 30,000 dollars a year, to ensure that they have the best of the best education. The conflict theory view stratification in a different manner, rejecting it rather than accepting it as a crucial part of society. I agree with this theory in its discussion of Marx (231) stating that this was a tendency of the oppressed to accept their oppression false consciousness. Accepting the cycle of oppression, inequality, and poverty only promotes the cycle further rather than trying to rise above it and change it. It is something that can be changed in my opinion but it is a matter of changing the mindset of the majority and restructuring. Things certainly don’t have to be as bad as they are. The documentary represents a cycle that will only make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The children of these wealthy people are getting this good education so they too can be wealthy one day and be able to send their children to these schools in hopes for the same thing. It is a cycle that is not advantageous to anyone but the people involved. The clip i attached is a simplistic, promotional version of how people slip into poverty ever day. People that were not rich but managed to get by with hard work and determination that have a hardship and then are thrown into the cycle of poverty that they have a very hard time getting out of. I though it was important for the book to point out this, that its not just poor people getting poorer, its people that were not poor becoming so, that makes up this situation as well. The segment on page 240 in the text about who benefits from poverty was something that stood out to me, because it simply shows others gaining (whom do not need to gain) at the misfortune of others.

  14. Elizabeth Daniels says:

    Social stratification is defined as the pattern of structured inequalities. (223) This is represented throughout every community. Every community throughout the world has some sort of ranking system; which prevents others from achieving things out of their reach. In some societies, they follow a caste system such as India. Other societies, such as the United States, rank people by their origin, gender, race and economic position in society. Each “group” represents the social class in which they occupy.
    Every person has an opportunity to experience life chances. “Life chances refer to the chances throughout ones life cycle to live and to experience the good things in life.” (226) With life chances, people can experience things by: better off people are able to purchase better things, such as a good education, medical care, homes, and vacations, along with many other things. Having the option of these life choices makes life more enjoyable, longer and easier for those people. This is represented in both of the documentaries that we watched during class. In “Nursery University”, the parents are applying their three and four year olds to nursery school as if they were applying to college. They have to apply a year in advance and there are only a limited amount of spots and a large amount of applicants. This shows how it is required to have a strong education right from the beginning of any child’s schooling career. Parents are asked, “what preschool are your kids going to” the second their child is born. They want to give their children the best chance possible in order to be the most successful that they can be and to have as many life chances as possible. In “Waiting for “Superman”, parents struggle in worrying about if they are sending their kids to a successful school in which they will receive a proper education in order to get them into a good college and a good career. When students are attending a school in which the dropout rate is higher than the graduation rate, the chances that they are even attending a good school is very low. Many people are blaming the failing schools on the failing neighborhoods around them, as well as vice versa. Not having a good school, even if you do graduate, brings you down on the acceptance list for colleges. Everyone is in competition with others in order to do the best in order to receive as many life chances and opportunities that they can.
    The conflict theory represents “that stratification reflects the distribution of power in society and is therefore a major source of discord and coercion.” (230) Everyone in every society is competing for the best resources, starting with schooling and educations. This is represented in both of the documentaries as well. In “Nursery University”, people are starting to look for preschools for their children basically the day they were born. The upper and some of the middle class are competing to get their children into the best preschool for them. Only the most “powerful”, which are the upper and middle class, will be able to put their children into the top preschools. I feel like this is more brought upon by everybody by what people feel that they should do, rather then what they actually have to do. In preschool, children are learning the basics such as their alphabet, numbers and learning to interact with others. Unless you go to an extremely low class preschool, I feel like there isn’t that big of a difference between preschools. In “Waiting for “Superman”, the parents are struggling to find a school that their kids will receive a good education at. Schools at poor societies have failing students. The power is held within the teachers that work there, which also do not care as much as others about helping the students. The “bad” teachers at some public schools are teaching the students 50% of the material, while the “good” teachers are teaching 150% of the material. Parents are willing to have to leave their houses at 5AM in order to get their children to school by 7:45AM at a private school verses a public school. The power is held by the most educational schools with the most educated teachers who care the most about the future of the children. Teachers are hired at public schools because they need teachers that are willing to work there, but in reality they are not good teachers at all and are only there for money. They don’t teach to the standards, they do the bare minimum because they have tenyer so they know they have a very low chance of getting fired. This causes the students to not care and want to give up, leading to dropping out and adding to the amount of people without an education.
    -there are numerous links to articles that explain examples of social stratification in different situations

  15. Dan Festa says:

    The textbook describes social stratification as “When people are ranked in a vertical arrangement (hierarchy) that differentiates them as superior or inferior” (Eitzen et al 225-26). It is a phenomena that is present in every society, although its’ causes differ. For example, social stratification in South Africa is based on race, while in Saudi Arabia, Social Stratification occurs based on gender. (Eitzen et al 223). In the United States, social stratification occurs on several levels. Racial and gender discrimination both still occur, as does discrimination based on social class. The stratification of social class, especially as it pertains to education was shown in the documentaries “Nursery University” and “Waiting for Superman”. The first film follows several upper-class families in Manhattan as they race to enroll their children in nursery schools that can cost up to $20,000 a year. The second discusses the dire state of many public schools in the United States. Obviously, not every family can afford to send their child to an expensive nursery school, but because the families that are featured in the documentary are near the top of the socioeconomic ladder, they enroll their children in these schools without a second thought. On the other hand, people who are not among the economic elite have little choice but to send their children to public schools, many of which do not provide the best possible education, thus limiting a child’s chances at success and perpetuating social stratification. It is also important to keep in mind that the documentary was only discussing nursery school. The costs of college education are also rising, which will also severely limit people who are less economically advantaged. Having a college degree is practically essential to securing a stable, well-paying job, and many perfectly talented individuals will be deprived of the chance of having a good education. The following article discusses the dramatic increase in the costs of a college education, and why college now costs so much:

  16. Angela Halton says:

    This chapter in, In Order and Conflict, they explore the idea of Social Stratification. They define this as when people are ranked in a hierarchy that differentiates them as superior or inferior. The focus of this chapter is the issues that come from the stratification and inequalities and the consequences. These problems come up in the documentaries, “Nursery University” and “Waiting for Superman”. Both showed either side of the class system looking for a school that would be right for their children, whether they were rich, poor, or in between.
    But “Waiting for Superman” showed the side of those who could not send their children to the best and most prestigious schools. This documentary showed the families and children that are not privileged and lack the ability to send their children to successful schools. Instead they are taught in learning facilities that are failing. More than half of the children do not make it to graduation or even last until high school. This could have to do with many aspects of the hierarchies of stratification -class, race, and gender.
    This demonstrates the Conflict theory. The Conflict Theory demonstrates how those of lower class are fighting and competing for scarce resources and the powerful prey on the week. This is shown throughout Waiting for Superman in many different ways. The texts reads “so powerful is the socialization process that even oppressed peoples tend to accept their low status as natural”(231). Most are accepting to their standings in the social stratification hierarchy, not many fight against it, they are accepting that it is natural to be in that position. And their are others who try to fight for better resources but still come up short.

  17. Nick Mancuso says:

    The poor are getting poorer and the rich, richer. Social stratification, patterns of structural inequalities, is the root cause for this issue today. Affluent dominance over the poor, male dominance over women, and white dominance over colored people are some examples of stratification. Class, race, and gender are the three major hierarchies causing this social issue. Class status is based on income, occupation, and education and involves having or not having individual rights, power, lifestyle choices, status, wealth, comfort, etc. (227) Race shows that people of color are given less power, wealth, and social status, having been dominated by the majority groups. (227-8) Gender shapes activities, perceptions, roles, and rewards among males and females. (228-9) Something I found interesting was the culture-of-poverty hypothesis which is when the poor are seen as qualitatively different as the affluent in values and lifestyles. (236) This is the reason why the poor pass poverty from generation to generation and just can’t seem to escape it.
    The Order Theory states that social inequality is natural and universal, but it motivates the most talented people to perform the required tasks. (230) There are certain jobs more important for societal survival than others. Jobs concerning medicine, teaching, or the military for example are more important to societal survival than “sweeping floors, collecting garbage, and washing latrines,” (223) and therefore must be done by those more qualified to do so. The greater importance of these jobs also earns them more money, prestige, and power distributed unevenly throughout society. Society is maintained through this reward system and people know their places in society.
    According to the Order Theory, the stratification of the educational system would be seen as acceptable. As we saw in the documentary, Waiting for Superman, many of America’s schools are in a shambles and giving children a poor education. 68% of inmates are high school dropouts; there is only a 12% reading proficiency in Washington D.C.; since 1971, math and reading scores have flat lined. Many failing neighborhoods blame their misfortune on these failing schools. While some schools are struggling, others are very well endowed and are able to give children higher education to send them to Ivy League schools and have successful futures. Order Theorists would say that the fortunate schools are producing those who would move on to do jobs that ensure the survival of society, while the schools that are failing are producing people to take care of the other jobs. The stratification of the educational system would be viewed in a positive light under the Order Theory.

  18. Alexis Farfaro says:

    Social stratification is defined by the textbook as “when people are ranked in a vertical arrangement that differentiates them as superior or inferior” (226). It is a form of structured social inequality and is not caused by biological differences, but rather by society itself. The hierarchies of social stratification are class, race, and gender. The major consequence of this system is an uneven distribution of wealth and rewards, which leads to different life chances and experiences to different social classes. The conflict and order theories of stratification analyze why societies are stratified and “why certain categories ranked as superior while others are considered inferior” (228). This rigid caste system can be seen in the documentaries Nursery University and Waiting for Superman.

    In Nursery University, parents struggle to get their toddlers into high-end nursery schools, firmly believing that a reputable pre-school will be their child’s foot into an Ivy League college. Waiting for Superman analyzes the public education system shows how it is failing, and how it is resulting in people of low economic status unable to compete in today’s global economy. In the first documentary, the majority of families interviewed were wealthy or upper-middle class and white. On the other hand, most families from Waiting for Superman were of a lower class and were either black or Hispanic. The people from Nursery University had the means to seek out the best schools for their children in order to provide them with the best opportunities for success in their futures. The poorer families had to rely on the public education system and hope for similar opportunities for success, which they did not receive. The failing school systems seem to be in locations where there is widespread poverty and minorities, such as in Harlem. Many of the families living in these areas would blame society for the lack of resources available to them and thus, for their lack of success. The people from Nursery University might be more apt to defend society and blame the individual for laziness or lack of motivation. The former would be considered conflict theorists, whereas the later would be order theorists.

    Order theorists are supportive of inequality because they feel as though an uneven distribution of wealth is necessary to ensure maintenance of society. Conflict theorists feel that social stratification is unjust and a source of social instability or change. Order theorists would disagree with the information of failing public education displayed in Waiting for Superman. They would say that education need not be equal, and that the rich and talented should have more opportunities when it comes to education because they are the ones who should be filling the post important positions in society. Order theorists would say that a cast system is important in order to ensure that all slots in the division of labor are filled and therefore maintain our society. Conflict theorists would argue that the current public school system is unjust because it is failing to provide the lower class with a good education and tools for success. They would say that the people of the lower class are a product of their society and that they feel as though they are inferior and unable to perform the better-rewarded tasks in society. As stated in the textbook, these people feel like they “deserve their fate”. According to conflict theorists, this is unjust and these people are victims of society.

    In my opinion, blaming society is not right, but neither is blaming the individual. One must take responsibility as to what their future will hold based on what they want to achieve. Yes, the education system in the U.S. is a vital tool in helping children and adults to succeed; however, without motivation, even the best schools will not help. For example, the Hispanic girl from Waiting for Superman had the drive to go to medical school and become a doctor despite the fact that she comes from a lower income family. Her motivation will most likely make her successful, despite the fact that she doesn’t have the same opportunities as one of the children from Nursery University. In addition, children from a higher income family may not be successful despite the plethora of opportunities they will have available to them in regards to education. Although society and education have a major impact on one’s future, components such as family and personal desire are just as powerful forces.

    Below is the trailer for the movie The Blind Side. This movie shows how social class, race, and one’s family have major impact on a child’s future.

  19. Melodi Vinette says:

    For your blog posting, use the example of one or both of the documentaries to examine the issues explore in this chapter. Highlight one of these theories (order or conflict) and discuss the perspective this theory would have on the stratification of the educational system, using the example of one or two of the documentaries.

    I believe the deficiency theory highlights some of the issues explored in the documentary “Waiting for Superman.” It is observed in that documentary that the cultural experience in poorer regions promotes character traits that impedes progress in society. I believe this theory of deficiency leads children to believe that bad behavior is rewarded through respect in that specific poor region. This idea leads those particular young adults to fail in regards to the education system and therefore end up on the low end of the order theory. The order theory suggests that inequality serves for a useful function in society and the division of labor is necessary for a society to function properly. There are rewards for specific roles in society, rewards may be power, money or prestige (230). Children attending school in a lower class area may not have the chance to obtain these rewards or even the chance to dream of achievements such as becoming a doctor or a lawyer. In the documentary “Nursery University” the couple from Harlem made the decision that they would do whatever it takes in order to send their son to a prestigious nursery school and continue his schooling in private school as he gets older. That couple chose to do that because they lived in the lower level of the order theory and they knew it was not something they wanted their child to go through. It is very sad that the only way it would be possible to remove their child from the cycle of class order would be to pay money to send him to private school. It was important to that couple that their son have the opportunity to achieve any social order that he may desire and be able to obtain any type of reward he may desire as well. It is upsetting to think of all of the potentials that many children in lower class regions have and those potentials go to waste because of the school systems and the idea of the order theory.

  20. Kyley Walsh says:

    Chapter 9 is mainly about social stratification. Social stratification is, “when people are ranked in a vertical arrangement that differentiates them as superior or inferior” (226). Social inequality is referred to when talking about social stratification. There are three hierarchies in society, which are class, race and gender. The three of these systems form what is called a matrix of domination. In the two documentaries, “Nursery University” and “Waiting for Superman,” social stratification is very evident. Families are influenced by society and the competition that is evident in each individual society. In “Nursery University,” families compete for the best private preschools in New York. In “Waiting for Superman,” families that are not as fortunate as the families in “Nursery University” compete for the best public schools. The advantages of certain classes, races and gender are evident when comparing these two documentaries. The families in the higher class, who are of a certain race have the ability to attend the private, more wealthier schools in New York.
    There are two theories to explain the stratification system and those theories are order and conflict. I think the conflict theory has a better emphasis on the education system. The conflict theory, “assumes that stratification reflects the distribution of power in society and is therefore a major source of discord and coercion. In “Nursery University,” the conflict theory is portrayed because the rich and powerful are the ones who have the chance to send their children to the best, most expensive preschools in the the city. The competition to get into these preschools is intense and parents lie, manipulate and use social connections to better their chances to be accepted to the certain school. Because certain families are powerful and wealthy, some parents even use their wealth to help get their child into the best preschool in New York. I think the conflict theory effects society because it causes competition and inequality between the wealthy and the less fortunate. The conflict theory explains that the powerful, wealthy families have a better chance ant giving more successful futures to their children. The competition in society is intense and I think it will unfortunately continue to grow.,0,4616458.story

  21. Leo Wetter says:

    The textbook describes social stratification as structured social inequality. In other words, our society has developed a pattern of social standards over the years, which is still consistent to this day. The term “caste system” is also used, regarding the specific position you are born into. They use an example of India. In Indian society, the caste system determines your social position, work, and range of marriage partners. Though it may not be as obvious, we have a similar process in the United States. Even in this country, the particular situation you are born into can certainly have an effect on the way your life plays out. The two documentaries we watched in class focus on specifically the education system in our society, and how it is not always an equal opportunity for everyone.

    In “Nursery University” we see the current situation regarding nursery schools in New York City. Their is an overwhelming amount of young children in Manhattan, which makes finding a nursery school even more difficult. In this documentary, we saw a number of parents trying to find the right first school for their children. These parents found themselves coming across many obstacles throughout this process. Every school only had a certain amount of spots for incoming students. Whether a child is accepting into a school or not is determined on money, persistency, or just plain luck. The tuition for some of these nursery schools seemed to be off the charts, sometimes over $10,000 per semester. Some of the families were not in a economic situation that could meet these demands. A number of the schools based acceptance policies on the child’s apparent intelligence, which is generally not well developed at such a young age. In some situations, the acceptance of a child to a school was based on a lottery selection or in other words, luck. When there is too many families applying to a specific school, by law the school has to perform a lottery in order to determine which children are accepted. This portrays how society sets standards that sometimes you can control, but others you cannot.

    The second documentary we watched was “Waiting For Superman”. This film focused on minority children attending middle and high school. Several children in the film who were of minority race excelled in their particular schools. The interviews showed that these children may not be able to attend the best school for them, because of where they live and what their economic status is. This shows how society does not always allow children to better their situations, even when the excel in school. It almost is like our society is trapped in a social web, and cannot find the answer to solve inequality. It is a sad truth that in our world today the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer. Our nation was designed to give equal rights and opportunities to people of all genders, races, etc. It is completely apparent that our society is not living up to its standards.

    This is a video that shows another example of our society not treating minorities with equality.

  22. Lauren Ryan says:

    The gap between the rich and the poor has been increasing for years and years with no end in sight. This gap creates social stratification which is defined in our text as “when people are ranked in a vertical arrangement (hierarchy) that differentiates them as superior or inferior” (Eitzen et al 225-226). This arrangement has become accepted in our society as normal, which is explained in the order theory. This arrangement has also created a variety of stereotypes that have also become commonplace in society.

    The order theory basically states that for a society to thrive and survive, inequalities must exist. In this theory of social stratification, it is required for “the smooth functioning of society requires that various tasks e accomplished through a division of labor. There is a universal problem, then, of allocation–of getting the most important tasks done by the most talented people” (Eitzen et al 230). What the text is saying that for society to function properly, the most talented people need to be encouraged to fill the top positions in society and the people who are considered less talented are categorized into jobs that suit their abilities. This is where stereotypes, specifically class and racial stereotypes, play a role. Minorities are considered to have lacking abilities and are therefore are placed in low skilled, labor jobs. They start to believe that they can never move up the social ladder because of their lack of skills so they accept their place in society. In previous chapters, we looked at the amount of education and how that this is affected by socioeconomic background and class. This chart shows how income distribution affects how many people receive their college diplomas:,r:5,s:49&biw=1024&bih=881

    This social stratification was shown in both documentaries Nursery University and Waiting for Superman. In Nursery University, the social stratification was shown through wealthy people in New York City trying to get their children into the best daycare their money can buy. They are able to afford this kind of education for their children because of the advantages they have been given by their class in society. These parents were able to get a good education and excel at their talents that gave them the edge to hold some of the top jobs in society. On the other hand, in Waiting for Superman, the people are forced to place their children in the public school system, which do not give their children the best opportunities. Across the United States, there are public schools known as “dropout factories.” These guarantee that the children that step foot into these schools will never be successful. These schools were found to be in the worst neighborhoods of cities. These areas usually accommodate low-income individuals, who are stereotypically minorities. This creates the never ending cycle of social stratification and stereotypes.

    Just because these injustices occur, does not make them right. The only way to solve these injustices is have an overhaul in the way that poverty is combated in our country. If you continually give people a check for not doing any work, then they will never go out and find a job or try to better themselves in general. The other problem is how important college has become. Yes it is important to be educated and be able to get a good job, but college is not for everyone. For those who do not have the opportunity to get a higher education or just choose not to, they should be given the option of going to a trade school or learning some other skills. Having these skills can give them some edge in society to be able to get some form of job that they can be proud of.

  23. Jessica Baker says:

    While watching “Waiting for Superman” I realized how lucky I was to receive such a great education and I know that not everyone is able to get a good education but I think that public schools should be able to give kids a quality education. I was privileged to go to a private school, which gave me a great support system and opportunities. I was lucky enough that my parents were able to send me to this school but my mom knew that I would be lost in the public high school in my town. She has worked in the public school system for over twenty years and she knew that when her kids were old enough she didn’t want any of her kids to go the public high school. When I think of private schools I do not think of the phenomenon that is going on for three year olds in New York City. I was shocked to see how the nursery school application process in New York City puts so much pressure on the three year olds and how much social class plays a part in this. Social stratification which is defined in Chapter 9 as “the pattern of structured inequities (223)” these patterns are in society everywhere. In “Nursery University” you can see the structured system that is put in place by society and social class. The parents in this movie are trying to make sure that they are setting up a brilliant future for their child. But they are also trying to fit into the social constraints of their social class.
    These patterns are not caused by biological differences but are socially recognized and then given important when attached to the society’s beliefs, attitudes and values. Stratification that already exists in the society can have effects on education, religion, politics, and economics. Along with stratification come some consequences that are rewards and resources which are unequally distributed in society. There is racial and ethnicity stratifications that are placed in our society. This is evident in “Waiting for Superman” where the public school systems are very bad in poor neighborhoods around the country, which are home to minorities. These neighborhoods dominated by minority you can see the decline in education. This is another example where resources are unequally distributed in society and teachers are not committed to their students. There are structural conditions put in place by society that are to blame for poverty not the poor. The attitudes and expectations of these accepted structural arrangements work to the disadvantage of the poor. In “Waiting for Superman” one of the most interesting topics that was brought up was how in our society we tend to think that failing neighborhoods cause failing schools but actually failing schools lead to failing neighborhoods.
    “Coach Carter” is an example of a movie where a coach took special interest in a group of kids, who came from a bad neighborhood and didn’t have much of a future and gave them a chance. He believed in them and got them to good well in school and care more about just the game of basketball. He taught them how to do something better for themselves and achieve their goals.
    Here is the trailer for “Coach Carter”

  24. Chris Medina says:

    Social stratification is defined as the structured social inequalities that exist in the world and categorizes people by age, height, race, gender, culture and many other areas (Eitzen et al 226). These biological patterns by which inequalities can exist is not formed or thought of as a discrimination factor, until the people themselves make it a factor. For example there is no need to discriminate by race, gender or even what occupation one has, but when other people look down or feel superior to others, this is when the inequalities originate. In Nursery University a prime example of how us humans create these structural inequalities starts from pre-school for some people. Parents of wealthier New York families feel the pressure to enlist their young children in these expensive, private schools in order to try and help them become as successful as possible. This is a huge class inequality because people with wealth will be able to give their children a better chance at having better life resources and life chances. Once this exist the cycle continues as the wealthy only become wealthier with expensive schools, and the poor cannot seem to keep up with schools that are not adequate enough to support them.

    There are different types of theories that exist, which can explain some of the reasons why these structural inequalities exist, especially in the education system. One theory that does not put the blame on the victim, which in this case is the poor, is the Conflict theory. The Conflict theory states that this stratification shows how the unequal distribution of power affects the less fortunate and therefore leads to discourse and coercion (Eitzen et al 230). This theory portrays a more accurate view of why there is social stratifications. When it comes to the education system the conflict theory allows us to put the blame on the powerful such as the government. For example they do not try and put more effort into helping schools who are not as wealthy as some of the other ones. Instead with the powerful in control, they only give the wealthy more power. By doing so, they then give the poor a false consciousness. For example the poor believe that they are not suppose to receive as good of an education. In Nursery University there are some examples that show this. In the documentary the rich are able to give their children the best education and the poor are not as fortunate. The poor might not even be able to receive a pre-school education due to the fact that all the schools are private where these wealthy people live. Therefore the conflict theory is demonstrating how this separation of power is bad and is allowing the poor to think as if they have no option but to keep being poor, and this is not the case. There should be more support on the less wealthy education in order to diminish the gap between the education systems and allow the poor to have better life chances.

  25. David Machi says:

    The book defines social stratification as a ranking of people in a vertical arrangement that differentiates them as superior or inferior. There are different theories that try to explain stratification, one being the order theory and another being the conflict theory. These theories try to answer, “Why are societies stratified?” The order theory suggests that social inequality is not only inevitable but it serves as a useful function of society. This theory believes that society runs more smoothly when jobs are divided into divisions of labor. So the most talented people will get the most important jobs, and the highest paying, while the unqualified people get the labor work. The pay is incentive for the qualified people to go through the long periods of training for that particular job. The rewards are money, power, and prestige and they help fulfill the important jobs that are necessary for our survival. Conflict theorists see stratification as a reflection of the unequal distribution of power in society. They believe that the powerful prey on the weak. This point of view sees stratification not as a basic survival mechanism but the ability of the powerful to bully the weak and gain more power. The powerful use the media, schools, and religion to ingrain into society these believes and the weak tend to accept their position at the bottom. The two documentaries we watched clearly showed the division of the rich and poor in our educational system. In Nursery University, the rich compete to get their children into the top nursery schools in the city. On the other hand, in Waiting for Superman the documentary shows how difficult it is for some urban children to get through school. Between the poor teachers and bad schools these kids gain little interest in education and often drop out. This contrast clearly shows the difference in opportunities for the rich and poor. The differences also extend to race, the rich are usually white and the poor are usually black. The rich have much more opportunity to make something of their lives than the unprivileged due to the educational system. This is reflected by the average combined math and verbal SAT scores in 1991. Families whose income exceeded 70,000 per year saw the mean score at 997, while families whose income was below 10,000 saw the mean score at 769.

  26. Pete Lucchesi says:

    I think it is pretty clear from the documentaries Nursery University and Waiting for Superman as well as the chapter on social stratification that the educational system in the United States needs major reform.

    Our current system is working well for some, but not working well for most. America is about equal opportunity for everyone and the educational system is everything but that. Public schools in high-poverty areas are grossly underfunded all throughout the country and this, according to the Institutional Discrimination theory presented in the chapter, can be directly attributed to below-average performance by poor children in these schools.

    The chapter also states, “the poor are not expected to do well in school, and they don’t” (236). Here, we see how the vicious cycle works. These poor children who are not expected to do well and do not have the resources to do well, don’t do well and when they become parents they are trapped in the same poverty because they didn’t do well and their children experience the same fate and round and round it goes.

    There is no one right way to fix this gigantic problem in our country. Where there is great wealth, there are always going to be great private schools because there is a demand for them. It is simple economics. The public schools do not have endless supplies of money and have to place limits on resources. When there are low limits, it impedes the learning environment. The educational problem is largely economic, and as long as our country continues to amass monstrous amounts of debt, this problem will never be fixed.

    To see what an advantage being privileged in the United States is, take a look at this article in Forbes. America’s best high schools are the ones that cost more to go to than many private colleges:

  27. Sean McKenna says:

    The two documentaries, Nursery University and Waiting for Superman relate heavily to chapter 9 in our text, Social Stratification. The most notable way these two relate to the text is through the general idea of social stratification and life chances made evident in both documentaries. Although these documentaries represent the same ideals and problems with education in the United States at two completely different ends of the spectrum, they both remain true to the aspects brought up in the text.
    The text states that social differentiation is the process of categorizing persons by age, height, occupation, or some other attribute and social stratification is when people are ranked in a hierarchy that differentiates people as inferior or superior (220). This aspect of social stratification is apparent in both documentaries. In Nursery University, the process of selecting and applying for a private pre-school and elementary school in Manhattan (which seems ludicrous to me) is brought up. Parents in Manhattan literally go through a process similar to the college process trying to get their children enrolled in these prep schools for toddlers. They spend tens of thousands of dollars on tuition at these schools because they believe a good preschool will pave the way for a good education and future. In these preschools, there are usually 15 or more applications for every one spot available. Everyone in this movie is clearly a product of social stratification and has ended up on the superior side of the social ladder. These people are wealthy and upper-class citizens; therefore, they are afforded more life chances. These chances are the chances people have to live and experience the good things in life (222).
    In contrast, in Waiting for Superman, the horrible state of Washington D.C.’s public school system is brought into the light and social stratification has clearly not afforded the students who go through the system many great life chances. With only 3 in every 100 students graduating high school with the necessary to continue on in college combined with a tremendous issue with teachers who have achieved tenure (the point where terminating the teacher becomes nearly impossible) not continuing to do their job, these students and products of this school system can be seen as being on the “inferior” side of the social stratification ladder.
    Below is a video on Social Stratification and a comprehensive researched article about social inequality from Trinity College

  28. Amanda Morales says:

    Chapter nine in the textbook explored the concept of social stratification. The term is defined as “the pattern of structured inequalities” (223). There are several different views to social stratification and its benefits and harmful effects on society. First in the text is the order theory, which is defined as the “social inequality is ubiquitous and apparently unavoidable phenomenon” (230). Within this theory, money and power must be unevenly disturbed because all jobs and positions aren’t as important. Through this theory, generations upon generation fall into the cycle of poverty. The second theory is the conflict theory. This idea “rather than accepting stratification as a source of societal integration… assumes that stratification reflects the distribution of power in society and is therefore a major source of discord and coercion” (230). Using these theories, it becomes much simpler to view the documentary films viewed in class from a sociological perspective.
    Nursery University is an excellent example of the order theory at work. The wealthy elite parents pursue and challenge the system in order, to provide their child with the ticket to an Ivy League school. For the wealthy, creating resumes, going on school tours, writing letters, and ultimately, brown nosing is the key to their child’s success. The needs for their child follow in their footsteps, earn more money, and continue to produce intelligent future generations is vital. However, if we view their practices they use to achieve entry in premier nursery schools, one can find lying, “donations”, and fraud. They are clearly aren’t teaching their children noble traits. In reality, they are saying if you don’t connive those around you won’t succeed. Though no matter, what they will continue to remain wealthy and dominate the social hierarchy.
    Waiting for Superman is example of the conflict theory. These students are simply being pushed in the cycle of poverty by getting a poor education. They are losing their basic need for survival. Without a proper education, success and job opportunity is extremely limited. Therefore, because they are impoverished and at a disadvantage they going to continue to struggle, just as their parents throughout their adult life. It is unfair and hurtful to see the conflict theory at work, realizing students are being deprived and not receiving the proper education is disheartening. However, when you view plans such as No Child Left Behind, which was mentioned in the movie in a positive light, in reality it has less of a good outcome. Standardized tests have become the teaching lessons and many state exams are “dumbed” down to allow for more students to pass. So although, the Bush administration wanted to help education they ultimately, slowed down and increased the effects of the order theory.

    The following is a link to the article about the nearby failing school district, Albany High. I had the pleasure to work with the teachers at Albany High and although, they are a “failing” district they have the most enthusiastic, encouraging, and dedicated teachers. It is unfair to judge and assume the worst of these teachers but the test scores speak louder than the teachers’ passion.

  29. Dylan McDonough says:

    The text book sees social stratification as a hierarchal system that differentiates people in a society as either inferior or superior (229-230). Stratifications tends to occur on the basis of certain factors such as economic class, race/ethnicity, and gender. These differences create a system of hierarchy that is seen universally around the world. There are two theories that try and explain why social stratification is a universal concept.
    First the order theory takes on a somewhat social darwinistic approach. It says that groups are separated because of a division of labor. Society needs people to do important jobs that require much schooling and training and are rewarded for their hard work with gratification such as higher wages. Also, society needs people who will work at the lower end jobs that do not require as much skill and are therefore less gratified (230). The second theory is the conflict theory which takes a much different approach. They see stratification as derived from the greed of the higher classes. It says that the higher classes use their wealth and power to socialize through media, education, and religion to make the culture actually believe that people are in their classes because that’s what they deserve. Therefore, the lower classes believe they are poor because that’s just the way it is.
    The book also brings up structural theories such as institutional discrimination. This puts more blame on the structure of society than the people themselves for social stratification (238). Institutional discrimination deals a lot with differences between the educations of the classes. As seen in the movies “Nursery University” and “Waiting for Superman”, in the U.S. many times what economic class you come from determines what kind of education you receive. The kids in the lower classes were put through a system of public schooling that was inefficient and ineffective. Instead of providing the opportunity to move onto higher education, the school system for the poor reaffirms their beliefs that school will not help them. The higher class children were being put into a system that may affect whether they get into Ivy League schools before they can even write.

    D. Stanley Eitzen, Maxine Baca Zinn, Kelly Eitzen Smith. In Conflict and Order: Understanding Society. Allyn and Bacon Publishing: Boston, MA. 2010

    Here is a video about education reform in America.

  30. Kevin Allen says:

    Every parent wants what is best for their children and many parents will go to any means necessary to make sure that this happens. One area that many parents want the best for their children is a good education. They want their children to receive the best education that they can receive so that later in life they will get a good job. Many parents want this for their children because they do not want their children to struggle with same hardship that the parents dealt with while growing. The parents want their children to live a much stress free life than themselves and receiving a good education as a child is one way that parents feel will lead their children on the right path to a successful life in the future.
    Two examples of parents wanting the best education for their children can be seen in documentaries “Nursery University” and “Waiting for Superman. Although these two movies are both about education, the families in these movies are on the complete opposite side of the social spectrum. “Nursery Education” depicts the families living in Manhattan going the rigorous process to get their two and three olds enrolled in the most prestigious nursery schools in Manhattan. These schools are not cheap at all. Some of them were close to $20,000 for a semester. For most people this might seem ridiculous that someone would pay $40,000 for their two year old to attend nursery school for one year. These parents see the failing public school system and they want their children to receive the best education. They see that getting into one of these well known preschools will then get their child into the best elementary school, high school, college and then get them the best job. These parents should be extremely grateful that they have the money to send their child to one of these schools.
    They should be very thankful considering some people don’t even make $40,000 of income in a single year. The other side of the social level can be seen in the movie “Waiting for Superman” many of these families make less income and are of the lower class. They cannot afford to send their children private schools. Instead they send their children to the public in hopes that they will receive a proper education. However many of these children do not receive the education that they should. Some reasons for this is that the school lacks the money and facilities to properly educate these children as well as it lacks the teachers to actually help these children. When the teachers are lazy and do not care it carries over to the students because then they do not care and do not want to go to school.
    The textbook defines social stratification as the pattern of structured inequalities (229). The author then goes on to describe two theories of stratification, which are the order and conflict theories. The position of the order theorist is basically supportive of inequality, because the unequal distribution of rewards is assumed to be not only inevitable but also necessary (230). Conflict theorists tend to denounce the distributive system as basically unjust, unnecessary and the source of many social problems (230). The school system is a very good example of the social stratification in the United States. The poorer people live in worse areas, and this area then has worse schools and a result the children receive a not so good education. The two movies we watched show the entire spectrum of the social stratification in New York City. “Nursery University” showed the rich upper class live in New York City, while on the other hand “Waiting for Superman” showed the middle to lower class living in New York City, especially Harlem.

  31. Molly Froehling says:

    Chapter 9 of the textbook provides examples of how our society is divided along class, race, gender and other variations. There are different sociological theories to explain these social stratifications. Our society is in conflict with social order and equal opportunities for different social classes. The chapter discussed structured stratification as a social pattern. It implies there are inequalities that are society rather than biological factors. The hierarchies of stratification are class, race, and gender. They place individuals in certain groups are reward them with certain resources. The documentary “Waiting for Superman” related to this chapter. In the film social class was represented. The lower income families and neighborhoods struggled to send their children to good schools. School districts were struggling because of financial resources and failing school systems. The families in this movie are seen to be socially located into a class position. This affects their income, occupation, education, status, wealth, rights, and access to services. The families that have high paying incomes have evenly distributed rewards from society. The amount of income determines how much you can acquire resource for survival. Many of these parents struggled to send their kids to private schools. In the documentary “Nursery University” the families are seen to have great privileges, being able to send their kids to better schools with more options for a better future. Race and ethnicity also refer to the social stratification system. It was noticeable to see how different races were portrayed in both films. In “Nursery University” only one family was of African American decent , while all others were white. In “Waiting for Superman” all the families where either African American or Latino lower class families. This just shows the differences in societies and the opportunities within them. The texts discuses the matrix of domination, that individuals experience different forms of privileges and subordination based on social locations. Because many of the families where from poor low income neighborhoods, their school systems were failing and in great need of restructuring. The other films however, the schools where in elite upper class Manhattan neighborhoods surrounded by the wealthy class. Many people of lower classes start to accept their oppressed status as natural. Many of the parents in the film did no attend school or did not finish school. It was normal for them to be surrounded by poor education systems, however many strived to find the best option possible for their children. Schools systems today that are located in overcrowded or low income neighborhoods produce poor educational opportunities. It is easier to blame the person than it is to blame the society for their failure. Many societies provide inequality for its people, discriminating against minorities and failing to provide enough jobs and opportunities. Several people are trapped into institutional discrimination. Structural conditions of society can be blamed for poverty. Most jobs today, require a College degree. In order to get a degree one must attend a proper school and graduate. They must have the money to then attend college. The documentaty “Waiting for Superman” showed the large dropout rates among students. Many were not motivated or properly taught by teachers, and in fact began to fail out or drop out of school. Most do not go onto College and most cannot afford College because of their low income families. In order to receive financial aid you must be a good student, and without the right education these students do not have good grades. It is a vicious cycle in our society that needs to be corrected. Education is one of the most important factors in a person’s life, and it needs to be the most important thing in our society. There needs to be fair and equal opportunities and resources within our nation’s school districts.

  32. Megan Hannah says:

    In the textbook they depict social stratification as an inequality. In the movie “Nursery University” this concept was very present. They showed one particular couple that did not know about the competitiveness of nursery schools in New York City and was struggling at the last minute to find one that they thought they might be able to send their child too. Another couple was struggling with not only getting in to the school but with being able to afford the tuition. They had no option for free education because there aren’t public nursery schools in the city. In that sense of lack of knowledge and financial issues there is a strong inequality between the rich and the poor. But as shown in the movie even the wealthy families struggled with the application process. Families with extremely good educational backgrounds such as Harvard and Columbia were applying to twelve nursery schools for their child. The reason parents felt so compelled to send their child to these elite nursery schools is because they saw it as a gateway to the top colleges and essentially the top jobs. This idea would go along with the order theory because education leads to an inevitable outcome to the order of education eventually leading to your career. In some cases the conflict theory came into play in this movie because as they showed some people use a form of bribery with donations and things of that nature to persuade admission for their child. Some people had more resources than others to donate to the school therefore the conflict theory of the strongest surviving, aka wealthy, effectively having more power.

  33. Erica Porco says:

    For centuries humanity and civilization has been based off the concept and idea of Social Darwinism. A human, I believe, is naturally competitive and their drive varies from person to person which creates diversity and different life chances. Chapter 9 discusses the social stratification in our society through race, gender, class, and ethnicity and the different opportunities and privileges one can receive in each situation. The chapter also displayed the two different theories of order and conflict. The order theorists see stratification serving the useful function of societal maintenance by providing a mechanism (differential rewards) to ensure that all the slots in the division of labor are filled (231). The conflict theorists see that stratification is unjust, divisive, and a source of social instability or change (231). I side more with the order theorist. I believe that human beings have a natural drive for competition and to be “better than the next”. With giving differential rewards throughout or society like how much salary a person could make a specific job, applying to colleges to further education, to establish a home with a family, etc.. helps push people to want to succeed and achieve some of those ambitions. In the documentary, Nursery University, it illustrates the order theory through many different parents with their children who they want to enroll in nursery school. The documentary showed how long and hard it took just to try and get their application viewed or even to be able to put in an application at a specific nursery school. Some parents felt that getting their children into a nursery school was so important, that if they were not able to get their children into a school where they were currently living, that they will try and move to an area where they can. The idea that if they can get their children into a prestige and known nursery school at as young of an age as possible shows how they want their children to become successful. In today’s society the only way to achieve true success and establish a stable lifestyle is to have an education. Trying to get your children into well known nursery schools, or safe and successful education districts where they will attend elementary, middle and high school is extremely important in order to continue to apply to colleges, which is becoming extremely competitive. Because not all education systems are as good as another or give the same opportunities, competition and acceptance has sky-rocketed.

  34. Andrew Sutton says:

    Social stratification can be defined as “when people are ranked in a vertical arrangement (hierarchy) that differentiates them as superior or inferior” (225-226) To explain this concept different theories have been developed. One of these is known as Conflict theory. This theory states that this stratification shows how the unequal distribution of power affects the less fortunate and therefore leads to discourse and coercion. (230) Through this system it becomes difficult for lower class individual’s to rise out of their current status. To look at it in a different view it is possible to say the system focuses more on the teacher who has all the power through the teachers unions. Teaching has become less about the student and more about making sure teachers get their benefits. While it is obvious that this is a gross overgeneralization it can still be recognized as true. Also the government which has a direct say in the education system is failing its students. In “Waiting for Superman” they showed a school in L.A that has had 60,000 students walk through its doors. Only 20,000 have walked out with a diploma. Why is this school still running? There comes a time where teachers union or not if a school is hurting children that much it should be shut down. In his state of the union address Obama said we need to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. If the government actually starts to do this than we are at least on the right track. We need to bring education back to the student and remember that while the teacher has a hard job it is still about the student. Below is a clip from CBS talking about our failing education


  35. Christine Pierson says:

    Chapter 9 of our text “I Conflict and Order” generally focuses on social stratification, defined as the ranking of people in a hierarchy that differentiates them as superior or inferior, based on personal attributes such as social class, race, and gender (226). This social stratification then feeds into the idea of matrix of domination, which is the intersections of these hierarchies of class, race, and gender in which each of us personally exists (229). This determines how we actually experience each of these personal attributes in our lives, our opportunities or lack-there-of, as well as the distribution of power in society. One of the fundamental theories of social stratification is the conflict theory. The conflict theory views the driving force behind stratification as the distribution of power in society, which causes much friction and oppression. This is because various social groups are constantly competing for limited resources, and the powerless lower classes lose out and resent their low position on the social totem pole (230). This can be seen in both the documentaries we watched in class, “Nursery University” and “Waiting for Superman.” “Nursery University” deals with the intense competition involved in getting one’s child into a private preschool in New York City. The parents in the documentary had this idea that if they were able to get their child into a good preschool, they ultimately have a leg-up in getting into the dream college of their choice down the road. Competition is so intense that there are 15 applicants for every spot in private NYC preschools. I would even go so far as to say that these parents spent more time and energy on this preschool application process than I did when applying to colleges. I find it absolutely ridiculous, but this example clearly displays how a ruling class would use something like school to reinforce the system of inequality. If a family doesn’t have the money to attend the application workshops, send in applications, go on visits, and ultimately send their child to a private preschool, they appear to be behind in the race for power already as the higher class will hold it over their heads. This then causes discord as the lower class resents not having the means to be “successful” by the higher-ups’ standards. “Waiting for Superman” also illustrates this point, as well as how the cycle of power or lack-there-of continues through the educational system. There are not enough good public schools, and therefore not enough spots which causes the fate of many people to be left in the hands of a random lottery drawing. There is no control in the process, which also causes resentment. And as a result of inadequate public schools, children grow up without the skills necessary to climb up the social ladder any farther than they were already positioned. For instance, most eighth graders across the United States score between 20% and 30% in reading. There is also the existence of “drop-out factories,” which are high schools where 40% of kids do not graduate on time. The following article relates to the aforementioned ideas and discusses “fixing” higher education:

  36. Shineigh Wren says:

    Chapter 9 in our book is all about Social Stratification which is the pattern of structured inequalities and how people are ranked in a social hierarchy (226). We can see this is extremely present in our current society. The middle class is being depleted, the upper class is shrinking, and the lower class is immensely growing. Our book claims that there are 3 hierarchies of social stratification: Class (people of similar economic rank are classed together and either receive privileges or not), Race and Ethnicity (people are categorized into a group based on membership of a certain group such as race, religion, occupation, etc.), and Gender (patterning of difference and domination through distinctions between women and men) (227-228).
    Whether social stratification and social inequality is necessary or not is an on-going debate. Order-Model Theorists would argue that social inequalities is necessary because it makes the most talented people strive to obtain the most important jobs (230).
    Conflict theorists would argue against that and say that social inequalities are unjust and not necessary because they cause false consciousness. False consciousness is acceptance through the socialization process of an untrue belief that works to one’s disadvantage (230).
    The documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’” follows the struggles of several families trying to get their children a better education. The biggest problem with the education system is that in areas where there are many lower class people, schools are failing miserably, meaning these children don’t get the proper education needed to be successful in the world. This puts these children at an automatic disadvantage from the children in higher classes who are able to go to a better school. It’s as if they never even had the option to be successful due to where they live and what class their parents are in. The people in this documentary would definitely agree with Conflict Theorists.
    “Waiting for ‘Superman’” gives us some scary facts and figures throughout the movie that make us open our eyes to the horrors of the failing education system. One specifically was that 68% on inmates are high school drop outs. If the government took the time to put them through a private school for 4 years instead of prison for 4 years, it would save a total of $24,000 a year. It is far less expensive to send a child to school than it is to keep them in prison, so why do we do just the opposite?
    Low income areas are the main-stay of “drop-out factories”. These drop-out factories are schools in which over 40% of the students don’t graduate. In one particular drop-out factory mentioned in the documentary, there were 1200 freshman students one year. The next year, when these students moved up to sophomore year there were only 300-400 students. Not only that, but they were at a first and second grade reading level.
    If we want our society to be successful we can’t just educate half (or in some cases less than half) of our communities, giving them all the advantages and privileges one needs for a successful lifestyle, but not bother with the other half. There is no way a society can strive and be successful with so many drop-outs and lower class citizens. Maybe that is the exact reason our society is failing today..

  37. ACN Scam says:

    May I just say what a relief to find someone who truly knows what they’re
    talking about online. You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More people really need to look at this and understand this
    side of your story. I can’t believe you are not more popular since you definitely possess the

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s